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(Photo by Xinhua/Sipa USA

100 pro-regime troops dead after attack in Syria against U.S. and partner forces

Matt Saintsing
February 08, 2018 - 10:46 am

The U.S.-led coalition and its local partners in Syria clashed with pro-government forces, resulting in deadly air and artillery fire to drive back an attack near the Euphrates River, the coalition said Wednesday.

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias, rebuffed an “unprovoked attack” after Syrian pro-regime troops launched an assault on a base in eastern Syria where U.S. troops are located to support their local partner forces.

“The Coalition remains committed to focusing on the defeat-Daesh mission in the Middle Euphrates River Valley and asserts its non-negotiable right to act in self-defense,” according to a statement.

The incident marks the latest clash between U.S.-backed partners and supporters loyal to Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. A U.S. aircraft shot down a Syrian jet last year, after pro-regime forces attacked U.S.-backed units in northern Syria.

Currently, about 2,000 U.S. troops are in Syria, mostly in support of the SDF, which has had wild success in expelling the Islamic State from most of the land it once controlled. The battle-scarred country is now entering the seventh year of a civil war.

The coalition said pro-regime forces were eight kilometers east of the de-confliction line, an agreed-upon buffer between Syrian forces and the U.S.-backed SDF.

The pro-regime force included 500 people and contained rocket and mortar systems, and tanks, a U.S. official said.

In all, about 100 pro-regime forces were killed in the counterattack that included air and artillery strikes. No U.S. troops were injured or killed, while one SDF member was injured.

The pro-Syrian forces were, most likely, attempting to reassert regime control over areas the SDF has cleared from the Islamic State last year. The region near the attack is an oil-rich area of Syria.